Nestled amid the rolling hills of Ubud in Bali, Indonesia, a tropical setting made up of rainforest and terraced rice fields, this house by Paris, Hong Kong and Bali-based multidisciplinary design studio A Work of Substance was conceived as “a landmark that transcends the boundaries between nature and the man-made”. Unobtrusively ensconced in the natural setting, the term “landmark” is rather misleading as what makes the two-storey building stand out from other new-built projects is that it almost disappears into the natural setting despite its generous size, clean-cut lines and modern sensibility. To achieve this, the team combined a palette of natural materials with an airy threshold between the indoors and outdoors, and the use of vegetation, both curated and untamed, to soften the building’s rectilinear volumes. Named after the steep gorges that shape the area, “The Ravine” encapsulates Bali's reverence for its natural landscape as well as pays homage to the culture and traditions that have breathed it into existence.
Taking a page from traditional Balinese architecture’s connectivity with nature, the house is designed in such a way as to blur the lines between indoors and outdoors. On the ground floor, the open-plan living area is swathed in verdant vistas thanks to wall-to-wall patio doors on three sides that open up the space to two spacious terraces, sun deck and swimming pool that juts out over the lush gardens. A sculptural spiral staircase that separates the sitting lounge from the dining area leads to the private quartets on the upper level.
Designed as separate traditional thatch-roofed pavilions, complete with en-suite bathrooms and private courtyards, the bedrooms are connected by a covered walkway lined with lush vegetation courtesy of built-in planters on the perimeter. Overflowing with trailing plants that cascade down to the ground floor, these planters go a long way in harmoniously blending the house with its tropical setting, as does the selection of building materials; brick, stone and concrete for the base, the latter imprinted with stalks of bamboo, and wood, bamboo and leaves for the structure’s upper levels.
Natural materials also dominate the house’s interiors along with the muted palette of earthy hues. Locally sourced timber like Javanese teak features predominantly throughout the public and private areas, showcased on features ranging from the hardwood floors, walls and ceilings, to the window and door frames, and furniture, most of which was custom-designed by A Work of Substance. Combined with the use of granite, marble, ceramics and rattan, the choice of materials successfully reflects Ubud’s unique natural landscape as well as imbues the interiors with a soothing, grounded feeling.
Inspired by the silhouettes of the region’s traditional music instruments, the team’s bespoke pieces, which range from credenzas, lounge chairs and coffee tables to a portable floor lamp made of teak, brass, rattan and porcelain, celebrate Balinese craftsmanship but at the same time feel clean-cut and modern, rounding up how the house masterfully straddles both heritage and modernity.